When Arkady Martine sets out to do a thing, she does it completely and thoroughly. That’s true whether she’s running an academic conference on Byzantium or creating an entirely new universe and an exquisitely intricate space opera to go in it. A Memory Called Empire is just such a narrative within such a universe, and we’re delighted that Arkady was able to join the first Cooking the Books of the year to discuss everything, from the menus (along with food reviews) to the poisons she constructed for the Teixcalaanli Empire.
We hope you’re strapped in tight for this month’s Cooking the Books Podcast, #042: Edible Flowers and Occasional Poison : Cooking the Books with Arkady Martine contains:
- poison (duh)
- so much space politics
- in spaaace
- a very new ambassador
- assassination (character and otherwise)
- edible flowers
- the most overthought steak sandwich
- And much more.
And visit additional Cooking the Books content over on the The Booksmugglers!
(Thanks as always to our friend Paul Weimer who helps clean up the CtB kitchen after we destroy it… AND to our new resident genius David Shaw who is helping us for the first time with sound engineering and podcast management we are so excited. More changes are coming soon too!)
Podcast #042: Edible Flowers and Occasional Poison : Cooking the Books with Arkady Martine
And Arkady pays as much attention to her recipe(s) as she does to her worldbuilding. We are not surprised in the least:
Fried Squash Blossom with Goat Cheese
The squash blossom – often a zucchini flower but there are lots of other options – is a staple of both modern and traditional Mexican cuisine, where they’re called flores de calabaza. They’re delicious in salads, soups, quesadillas … and, when stuffed with cheese and fried, a fine-dining appetizer and a streetcart staple at once, depending on where you are.
(Personally, I’d recommend buying them from a street cart in Mexico City.)
- 16 zucchini blossoms or other squash blossom
- 1 cup soft goat cheese
- 2 tbsp white onion, chopped
- 1 Serrano pepper, minced (optional)
- salt and black pepper
- oil for frying (vegetable or corn oil)
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup flour
- ¼ cup beer (a light lager is best)
Carefully remove the pistil from the blossoms with kitchen shears or the tip of a scissors. Wash the blossoms and pat them dry with kitchen paper.
Sauté onion and Serrano pepper in a small amount of oil over medium heat until onion is translucent (2-3 minutes). Combine with the goat cheese. Then carefully spoon around one tablespoon of the cheese mixture into each blossom. Twist the petals of the stuffed blossom closed, so the cheese does not escape during frying.
Prepare the batter: Beat the egg in a medium-sized bowl. Add the flour and the beer. Mix well.
Heat the frying oil to a low-medium heat in a nonstick pan (the oil should be approximately ¼ – ½ inch deep, and a drop of batter placed in it should sizzle but not smoke). When the oil is hot, take each stuffed blossom, and holding it by its stem, dip it in the batter and place it directly in the pan. Try not to pile the flowers on top of one another.
Fry until the flower is a light golden brown (approximately a minute and a half on each side). Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
Teixcalaanli Flowers-of-the-Earth Cocktail
A warning: Mahit Dzmare did not like this cocktail at all. Unless you are very partial to violets, neither will you.
- 1 oz Crème de Violette
- ½ oz Domaine de Canton
- 1½ oz botanical vodka or gin (try Ketel One Botanicals in the Grapefruit & Rose version, or if that goes odd on you, a botanicals-forward gin like Greenhook Ginsmith’s American Dry Gin or the easier-to-find Hendrick’s Gin).
Serve in a cognac glass or other bell-shaped snifter.
Arkady Martine is a speculative fiction writer and, as Dr. AnnaLinden Weller, a historian of the Byzantine Empire and a city planner. Under both names she writes about border politics, rhetoric, propaganda, and the edges of the world. Arkady grew up in New York City and, after some time in Turkey, Canada, and Sweden, lives in Baltimore with her wife, the author Vivian Shaw. Find Arkady online at arkadymartine.net or on Twitter as @ArkadyMartine.